My first reaction when I watched this episode was that the plot is progressing too quickly. As great as the episode's animation and musical score were, unfortunately a decent pacing had to give way in order for the writers to resolve everything about Meloetta
, Giovanni, and TR by the end of next week's episode.
Outside of the thirty seconds spent to remind the viewers that Giovanni does exist, the episode proceeded with Ash training for the Unova League outside of Cynthia's villa. As much as I disliked the actual match-up (Oshawott
), I did like that Ash fought Cilan for the first time since their gym battle back at the start of the saga.
The plotline started when Meloetta
, who practically sat on the sidelines for the past fifteen or so episodes, suddenly requested to fight Oshawott. Oshawott obviously refused to hurt Meloetta, and Ash sent out his Krookodile
to battle Meloetta instead. I felt that the training battle at the start of the episode was nothing more than a device for the plot to move along very quickly by getting both Larry and Team Rocket to converge to where Meloetta is. Why else would Meloetta have decided to battle right Ash's pokemon right there and then?
This is the first instance in which the pacing of this episode went out of proportion. The writers introduced a character who was created to explain where Meloetta came from, and there was a flashback that depicted how Team Rocket encountered and caught Meloetta in the first place. However, neither Larry or Team Rocket explained how Meloetta managed to escape from its capture prior to the events in BW082. Meloetta was trapped in a cage composed of the same material that Team Rocket used to trap the three Kami pokemon. None of those legendary pokemon were able to destroy the cages from the inside, nor were Ash and co. successful in destroying the cages from the outside; the helicopter carrying the cages was attacked instead.
And yet, how did Meloetta, a pokemon that seems to be weaker than those legendary pokemon, manage to break out of that cage and escape from Team Rocket prior to BW082? Especially since Meloetta would later be unable to break free of the cage that Team Rocket trapped it in later during the episode. This was something that I questioned throughout my viewing of the episode and unfortunately the plotline had to proceed very quickly without touching up on this "plot hole" so everything could end next week.
After the nine and a half minutes spent introducing Larry's character had ended, the episode then proceeded with Giovanni and the TR grunts that were brought with him to Unova attempting to capture Meloetta once more. I was absolutely impressed that Team Rocket managed to fare very well during this onslaught. In previous series, Ash and co. managed to overcome dozens of Team Rocket grunts and their pokemon in mere seconds. But ONLY TWO generic grunts battled Ash and co. during this episode, and their pokemon were so powerful that Ash and the others had to escape so Larry could fend them off. And even though Larry and Golurk
managed to defeat their opponents, they still struggled to win that battle, considering how long it took Larry to reunite with Iris
and co. after Ash and Meloetta got caught.
Some attack animations have changed a lot as well. Dragon Rage's animation was modified because its previous animation resembled what Dragon Rush's current animation. Power Gem, which was animated as a large orange orb in the DP arc, now resembles a narrower version of Hyper Beam's current animation.
I would have wanted more grunts to battle Ash and the others, though. There were at least four grunts who accompanied Giovanni during his trip to the Unova region, but we only saw two of them actually show up later to catch Meloetta. We also never got to see Matori during this episode, despite her appearance in the previous ones. I guess this is also a price that had to be paid to move the plot along.
We also got to see Ash and Giovanni interact for the first time in a canonical episode, and better yet we got to see Giovanni's Persian
battle and use attacks for the first time. I found it a bit odd that Golem
, and Persian
all used post-Gen I attacks during their respective battles, and it reminded me of how far the entire series had come. If Persian had been used in a battle when it first debuted over fifteen years ago, it would not have used attacks like Shadow Claw or Power Gem.
The rest of the episode was spent with Giovanni capturing Ash, Pikachu
, and Meloetta and taking them to the Abyssal Ruins where they would use the recording of Meloetta's voice to obtain the Reflecting Mirror. Other than the amazing visual and audio quality that coincided during these scenes, I am impressed that Ash and Pikachu
were utterly helpless and could not have done anything to stop Giovanni by themselves.
Overall, the episode was great, but there were a few loose ends that I wished the writers had answered regarding Meloetta's past and its connection with the Reflecting Mirror and Therian pokemon. I felt that there was enough material here for the writers to stretch everything out to a third episode, but they had chosen to end everything in two. I'll expect the events in next week's episode to be significantly rushed. After all, how can the writers have Iris, Cilan, Cynthia, and Larry travel to the Abyssal Ruins; free Ash, Pikachu, and Meloetta; battle TRio and the Therian pokemon; and stop Giovanni in twenty minutes without rushing some elements of the plot? Those are questions that will be answered next week.